Pensioner David James Fletcher says he has been harassed and threatened more than 200 times by other residents at his Dargaville retirement complex.
He compiled "incident reports" of each event and submitted them to the Tenancy Tribunal as part of his application, in which he wanted $100,000 in exemplary damages from his landlord and three residents evicted.
The tribunal awarded him $500 and said there were no grounds to terminate any tenancies.
Fletcher has lived in one of 11 flats in a complex at Kauri Court, Dargaville, since 2016.
Problems stemmed mostly from his dislike of a woman next door smoking outside, contaminating their shared airspace.
He tried several times to negotiate a compromise with her and made numerous complaints to the Dargaville Community Development Board (DCDB), which manages the complex on behalf of the owner Kaipara District Council.
But the problem persisted. Other tenants seemed to side with her and sometimes threatened and harassed him, Fletcher said.
Of the 200 incidents he documented over three years, 17 of them were for variously levelled threats.
In January 2020, he and the woman next door had a physical altercation, albeit a minor one.
According to a police report, Fletcher tried to push a large potted plant owned by the woman, more towards her side of their common outdoor space.
He said the woman slapped him in the eye. The woman said she pushed him.
A spokeswoman for the landlord told the tribunal she largely dealt with incidents between residents by speaking to those involved and trying to understand their version of events. Where appropriate, she reminded them of the importance of tolerance and co-operation in a communal living environment.
More recently, she issued antisocial behaviour notices to Fletcher, the couple next door, and a man in the flat on the other side of them.
Tribunal adjudicator Nicholas Blake said he did not want to trivialise Fletcher's experiences. The extent to which they occupied his time and energy was evident from the 22-page, 289-paragraph summary of events he submitted to the tribunal.
He accepted Fletcher felt harassed by other tenants and ignored by his landlord. But the tribunal was required to take an objective approach.
The question for it was whether there were any proven incidents of behaviour by other residents that met the threshold of "unreasonable interference with peace, comfort, and privacy at the premises" and if so, whether the landlord took all reasonable steps to prevent it.
His neighbour's smoking was interference with Fletcher's comfort, but Blake said it was not an unreasonable one. The neighbour was permitted to smoke outside her flat as per her tenancy agreement.
That there was tension with some other residents and that some of the other residents might dislike Fletcher, did not amount to an interference with his reasonable peace, comfort, and privacy.
Low-level antagonistic behaviours that frequently accompany that sort of tension and dislike, whether directed at Fletcher or by him to other residents, did not breach any legal duty.
However, proven incidents of threats of violence, severe abuse, or actual violence could amount to an interference with a tenant's reasonable peace, comfort, and privacy.
Fletcher was right to be critical of DCDB's failure to take those incidents more seriously, particularly the one reported to police because it marked an escalation in the ongoing conflict.
But given the limited extent of the assault, it was unlikely to result in Fletcher's neighbour being evicted. She should, however, have been issued a breach notice, Blake said.
While finding in Fletcher's favour "in some respects", the tribunal called his assessment of DCDB's culpability "wildly inaccurate".
As a comparison, the tribunal cited several recent similar applications from Kainga Ora tenants but involving far more serious behaviour and situations in which there were clear grounds for the landlord to terminate tenancies.
Those cases resulted in awards of no more than $5000.
The behaviour Fletcher was exposed to was significantly less serious and it was not clear there were grounds for seeking evictions, Blake said.